Rahane sets it up for India as visitors reduce Sri Lanka to 72/2 in defence of 413

Riding on Ajinkya Rahane’s sparkling century, India tightened the noose around Sri Lanka on the fourth day of the second Test in Colombo on Sunday. 

Set a daunting victory target of 413, Sri Lanka were 72/2 at stumps with Kumar Sangakkara, playing his farewell innings, already back in the hut. 

The Sri Lankan legend made 18 in his final innings before Ravichandran Ashwin snared him for the fourth time in as many outings in the ongoing series. 

Riding on Ajinkya Rahane’s sparkling century, India tightened the noose around Sri Lanka on the fourth day of the second Test in Colombo 

Riding on Ajinkya Rahane’s sparkling century, India tightened the noose around Sri Lanka on the fourth day of the second Test in Colombo 

Rahane (126), who was promoted to No.3 in this match, notched up his fourth Test century as India declared their second innings at 325 for eight. 

No team has ever scored 413 in the last innings of a Test match on the Sri Lankan soil. 

The highest successful run chase (377) has been achieved by Pakistan only a few months back, when they scored 382 for three in Pallekele. 

The highest fourth innings target successfully chased by the hosts has been 352 against South Africa in Colombo in 2006. 

It will be a tough task for the hosts to score 341 runs on a deteriorating fifth day track on Monday. 

The highlight of the day was Rahane’s knock and his 140-run second wicket partnership with Murali Vijay (82), which put India in a position to take a mammoth overall lead. Rohit Sharma chipped in with a useful 34. 

India began the day at 70/1, and Rahane and Vijay started slowly but soon increased the pace of scoring. 

Vijay brought up his 11th Test half-century in the 36th over, off 104 balls, before hitting two sixes. At the other end, Rahane played patiently and yet kept the scoring rate up. He reached his eighth Test fifty off 118 balls in the 39th over. It also brought the 100-partnership for the two batsmen. 

The aggressive intent of both batsmen was clearly towards a declaration later in the day, and they scored 68 runs in 13.4 overs in the first hour at about five runs per over. 

Sri Lanka then fought back with the wickets of Vijay and Virat Kohli, both trapped in front by Tharindu Kaushal (4/118). 

Post lunch, India started from 179 for three as Rahane and Rohit looked for quick runs. But Sri Lanka kept things tight with Kaushal bowling round the wicket to the two right-handers. 

Virat Kohli shakes hands with Kumar Sangakkara after the Sri Lankan legend was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin in his final innings

Virat Kohli shakes hands with Kumar Sangakkara after the Sri Lankan legend was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin in his final innings

Rahane, however, stood solid as he completed his hundred off 212 balls. 

Rahane and Rohit then stepped up the tempo with attacking shots. Rohit perished in trying to clear the rope and was caught in the deep off Kaushal. 

Two overs later, the off-spinner also accounted for Rahane who edged one to the keeper. 

It brought Stuart Binny (17 not out) and Wriddhiman Saha (5 retd.) together at the crease, but the latter retired hurt in the 79th over due to a strained right hamstring. 

Later, Saha didn’t keep wickets as Lokesh Rahul donned the gloves. 

Sri Lanka took the new ball, but Binny and Ashwin managed to avoid any further damage before the final session of play. 

Ashwin opened the bowling along with Umesh Yadav (0- 10) and made immediate impact with the new ball. 

In the third over Kaushal Silva (1) played a loose shot off a full toss and hit it straight to short mid-wicket.  

Sangakkara played for a final time amid a standing ovation and guard of honour by the Indian team. He put on 25 runs for the second wicket with Karunaratne before Ashwin dismissed him with a turner, caught at gully by Vijay.

The visiting players, including captain Virat Kohli, shook hands with the departing Sangakkara as his family looked on from the stands. 

Dimuth Karunaratne (25 not out) and skipper Angelo Mathews (23 not out) then stood their ground for an unbeaten 39-run stand to fight on.

 

Injured Vijay and Saha ruled out

By Press Trust of India  

In a big blow to India, opening batsman Murali Vijay and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha were ruled out for the remainder of the Test series against Sri Lanka due to injuries. 

Naman Ojha and Karun Nair have been named as their replacements for the third and final Test starting in Colombo on August 28. 

“The BCCI medical team confirms that Wriddhiman Saha and Murali Vijay have been ruled out of the remaining part of India’s tour of Sri Lanka due to injury,” BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said in a release. 

“Saha has sustained a strain in his lower right hamstring and would require rehabilitation and strength training to recover completely. Vijay has sustained mild re-occurrence on his pre existing injury in his right hamstring and would need further strength training to recover completely,” the release said. 

The national selectors named wicketkeeper Naman Ojha and Karun Nair as their replacements. 

Vijay had also missed the first Test at Galle as he could not recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in Zimbabwe during India’s recent limited over series there. 

He returned to the playing eleven in the ongoing second Test. Saha sustained the injury on Sunday while batting. 

He first retired hurt on 5 and then came back to bat during the final session. Later Lokesh Rahul donned the wicketkeeping gloves in his absence.

 

Sanga leaves a lasting legacy for Lankan cricket

By Reuters

There was no fairytale farewell but Kumar Sangakkara left behind a slew of batting records and a rich legacy after playing his final Test knock at the P Sara Oval on Sunday. 

Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin cemented his status as Sri Lanka’s current public enemy number one by dismissing the home hero for the fourth time in four innings. 

Ashwin once again induced an edge which Murali Vijay pouched in gully as Sangakkara, arguably the greatest Sri Lankan batsman, finished his 134-Test career with 12,400 runs with a 57-plus average. 

Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara is greeted with an arch of bats as he enters the field for the last match of his test cricket career, the second test cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo

Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara is greeted with an arch of bats as he enters the field for the last match of his test cricket career, the second test cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo

It puts him fifth in the list of highest Test run scorers, while the 14,000-plus runs he scored in 404 one-dayers before quitting the format after this year’s World Cup, places him second in the 50-over list after Sachin Tendulkar. 

The 37-year-old walked out to a guard of honour by the Indians and the umpires and the otherwise phlegmatic cricketer betrayed nerves and nearly ran himself out after a misunderstanding with Dimuth Karunaratne. 

He calmed nerves by unleashing the trademark flick that sent an Ishant Sharma delivery racing to the fence. 

The famed straight drive also made an appearance before Ashwin cut short his final innings. 

The Indians rushed to shake hands with Sangakkara, who took off his helmet and turned back to acknowledge the applause from the crowd. 

They gave him a standing ovation as he retreated into the dressing room. 

It was not the ideal exit but Sangakkara left having cemented his place as, at least statistically, the greatest batsman Sri Lanka has ever produced. 

Sangakkara made his Test debut 15 years ago as a shy stumper-batsman against South Africa at Galle, entering a dressing room that contained big names including Arjuna Ranatunga, Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan. 

In Mahela Jayawardene, he soon found a friend. Born five months apart, their partnership on field was often the foundation on which Sri Lanka built their innings. 

A law student with a silver tongue, Sangakkara could easily get under the opposition’s skin but never crossed the line. 

Like Jayawardene, Sangakkara wanted to quit international cricket soon after the World Cup but was urged to stay on, helping the side under Angelo Mathews as they embarked on a tricky transition. 

His fans desperately wanted him to score one more double century to equal Don Bradman’s record of 12 but that was not to be.